January 25 - February 5, 1924 — Chamonix, France
Imagine a hockey player at the highest level of play who was so good that he scored practically whenever he wanted. Such was the skill of Canada’s Harry Watson at the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, France. Watson played just five games that year, but he scored a preposterous 36 goals!
He went by the nickname “Moose”, and, to be sure, Watson was one of the biggest players on ice in any game he played, even in Canada. But he was immensely skilled with the puck and could also skate as well as anyone, making him a threat every time he had the puck. To wit, in Canada’s first game of the 1924 tournament, against Czechoslovakia, Watson scored three goals in the first period, six goals in the second, and two more in the third — a total of eleven goals. And, remember, this was when games were only 45 minutes long (3 x 15). Final score — Canada 30, Czechoslovakia 0.
The team’s next game was a 22-0 demolition of Sweden, and Watson contributed six goals. Yet, these were not his most productive games! Against Switzerland, a 33-0 pasting, Watson scored 13 goals (four in the first and third, five in the middle 15 minutes), a record that will surely never be broken. In the gold-medal game, a much closer 6-1 win over USA, Watson scored three times.
As amazing as his Olympic record was, Watson is remembered as the finest example of a purely “amateur” hockey player Canada has ever produced. While all of his less talented but today better known teammates went on to successful NHL careers, Watson refused to be “tainted” by the lure of the professional game and paid service. Indeed, Bert McCaffery, Hooley Smith, Dunc Munro, and Beattie Ramsay all played for money, but their leader refused to sign a pro contract. Watson remained an amateur the rest of his career, went into business in Toronto, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963. An amateur, to be sure, but for five extraordinary Olympic games Watson was the most prolific scorer in hockey history.
As part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations, www.IIHF.com is featuring the 100 top international hockey stories from the past century (1908-2008). Starting now and continuing through the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Canada, we will bring you approximately three stories a week counting down from Number 100 to Number 11.
The Final Top 10 Countdown will be one of the highlights of the IIHF's Centennial Gala Evening in Quebec City on May 17, the day prior to the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 World Championship.
These are the criteria for inclusion on this list: First, the story has to have had a considerable influence on international hockey. Second, it has to have had either a major immediate impact or a long-lasting significance on the game. Third, although it doesn't necessarily have to be about top players, the story does have to pertain to the highest level of play, notably Olympics, World Championships, and the like. The story can be about a single moment — a goal, a great save, a referee's call — or about an historic event of longer duration — a game, series, tournament, or rule change.
Click here for the 100 Top Stories